Are your technology suppliers and support providers advising you according to your best interests, or theirs?
If you’re in business, you depend on your technology supplier and tech support team to provide you with the right information so you can make smart decision for your business.
So how can you be sure that they are doing that… providing you with the right information?
It’s a cynical take on things, I know. But really, are their decisions in the best interests of your business or are they spun in a direction that best suits their needs, even if that undermines your needs?
Let me give you an example.
Recently I was taking to a guy who runs a small business. He buys all of his technology from a particular reseller, who does all his break/fix work. He has another guy on call for all of his complex support stuff. He told me that he invited both of them in to talk about reducing his costs by looking at non-Microsoft products.
The tech support guy was dead set against the idea, and so was the reseller. Based on the reaction of his “trusted sources”, he walked away from the whole idea of change. He and I crossed paths at a BBQ and got to chatting over a few beers.
Once he found out I was in the ICT industry, he (let’s call him George) explained his situation and the conversation went a little like this.
George: “So what do you think about this?”
Me: “Get rid of both of them and start again.”
He was a little taken aback by that.
“Look,” I said, “I’m sure you’ll find that your support guy is Microsoft certified.”
George nodded and said, “I actually wanted that.”
“That means he’s spent a serious amount of money getting certified. He’s going to be against any idea that you come up with that devalues that, no matter how right that solution is for you. There’s no upside for him if he’s a Microsoft specialist and you decide you want to use UNIX, for example.”
George thought about that for a second.
I continued, “Now if your reseller is a Microsoft partner, they have to earn so many points to achieve and keep their certification. Let’s assume that your reseller is a Microsoft certified partner. They’re going to need to get 50 Partner Points to be a Certified Partner. The reseller earns points by the number of products you buy from them, the number of Microsoft Certified guys they employ and so on.”
This got George’s attention and he said, “So they’re not that different to my support guy, right?”
“That’s right. Except they’ve got more invested in their certifications. The other thing to remember is that the better leads are fed to the guys with the higher partner status as well.”
“So it’s not exactly the smartest thing in the world for them to look at other products is it?”
I nodded and drained my beer.
“So what do I do?” he asked me.
“What are you trying to achieve?” I asked.
“I want to keep things working kind of the way they do now, but I want to reduce my costs if I can. I asked them about Macs and this Linux thing and they told me that they were either too expensive or some sort of hobby software that I’ll never be able to get support for.”
Grabbing another beer I said, “Listen George, Linux isn’t hobby software and it’s easy to get support for it. Macs are more expensive than Windows machines but, over the long term, it’s been my experience that they’re cheaper to run. When all is said and done, the best solution is the one that delivers the outcome you’re after.”
He looked exasperated.
I said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ve got to go out to Parramatta next week to see a client. I’ll come out to your office while I’m out there and have a look to see if I can give you a few suggestions on how you can reduce your costs.”
He gave me ‘that look’ and asked, “So how much is that going to cost me?”
I shook my head and said “Nothing. I’m just coming out to have a look. If you’re happy with the feedback, all I’m asking is that you keep me in mind if you have any projects that come up in the future”.
We shook hands and agreed that I’d go and see him the following week.
In the next blog post I’ll tell you about what happened.
The 1% Spend is written by a prominent Australian I.T. consultant who is choosing to remain anonymous (and candid).